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Green Belt

A satisfactory outcome that planning permission has been refused for the use of an agricultural building in the green valley between Nevill and Hungershall Parks. The valley is in the Green Belt and protected in the Local Plan. We objected to a proposal to convert it as a house and then to a subsequent proposal for a builder’s yard. Either would be a very visible intrusion on the vital green western fringe of Tunbridge Wells and could be the thin end of a wedge.

Crescent Road

Still no planning application for the former AXA buildings opposite the Assembly Hall. An exhibition in February showed the site redeveloped with town houses which the developer owner said had been `agreed with the planners`. Like many others we protested at the quality of the scheme, at the suggestion it had been agreed, and at the fact that proper consultation was needed on such a major change in the town centre. Among other things we want a development that relates to its surroundings and gives access to Calverley Grounds, and not a fait accompli to be rubber-stamped by the Planning Committee.

uPVC (plastic)

People sometimes ask why we are so opposed to uPVC (plastic) windows and doors. These can be cheaper to buy but never properly reproduce the profile of the timber furniture with which older houses were built, being flatter and shallower. Properly maintained timber windows last a lifetime while uPVC cannot be repaired, painted or recycled. The reasons for this are inherent in the material, which is relatively weak and needs strengthening with metal bars. So-called conservation grade uPVC is much more expensive, but still in our view unsustainable and inappropriate in older buildings.

Town Centre Vision

The Council has finished consulting on the Vision for the town centre, the first step towards a town centre plan. The Society has asked for a town centre plan for years and we’re pleased to see a Vision which sets out seven key themes starting with its ‘spa town character and unique sense of place’, and including an increase in town centre living, connected green spaces, street improvements, and space for pedestrians and cyclists. Ten sites are also identified where development is expected. We have responded with support for these themes but disappointment that we still don’t have a clear idea of the changes we should expect.

Calverley Park

The plan by a new owner to drastically enlarge one of the listed Decimus Burton villas in Calverley Park (itself listed) was happily rejected (twice) by the Planning Committee, in spite of the officers recommending approval. The Society along with many others strongly objected, and we pointed out that any `harm` to a listed building is required by law to be justified by a public benefit – like securing the future of the building. There was no public benefit from these proposals, and it’s hard to understand them (or the officers’ recommendation). Approval has now been given for a detached double garage with storage over.

The Royal Tunbridge Wells Civic Society - Registered Charity No. 276545